Thinking about what I would do

One time I was sitting on a commuter train and the next thing I know, as we are going along, there is this guy sitting diagonally across the aisle from me and facing me – a stupid, young, dumbass punk – loading a semi auto clip. Some of the rounds are falling on the seat and onto the floor.

In that situation there’s nothing you can do. You cannot get up and walk away because that might provoke them. You cannot look at them or say anything to them because that might provoke them. Basically, during that time, I was captive and expecting that at any moment I could be killed or seriously hurt.

It would only have been seconds if he had wanted to kill me right then and there. But then again, what point would he have had to just randomly kill me and risk his own imprisonment for murder?

Yet something very similar to that did happen once on a streetcar in my city some years ago. A crazy guy had a gun and most people on the car were tuned out and didn’t even notice. But the surveillance camera caught it. When the car reached a stop and some poor student went to get off, the guy shot him in the back. So completely crazy, irrational shit does happen. You never know.

Every time I hear about a mass shooting I think what would I do if I were there. I imagine if I were behind the shooter and had a chance to jump on them from behind. Would it work? Would I take such a chance? I have no doubt that, in such a situation, a person would have a great reserve of emergency strength available. But would it help? And would I even have the courage to make such a move in the first place?

Also what would be the best way to attack from behind? To come up and grab both the shooter’s arms from behind? To jump up on their back and grab their head and try to take them down?

Then I also think of other things. In such a situation a baseball bat would be extremely useful. One very carefully aimed, extremely powerful swing at their head to crack their skull and instantly disable them. If not a baseball bat then perhaps some other object. A chair. A fire extinguisher? But with different objects one worries about their efficacy or possible lack thereof which could be terrible. If you only get one strike on an attacker you have to be sure that that strike is going to take them out for certain.

Another thing I thought of is just spraying a fire extinguisher to stun or confuse them. But this seems like a pretty limited idea.

This all leads to one, overwhelming realization: Above everything else, the number one thing that would be useful, that would absolutely be a lifesaver in such a situation would be to have a gun. Why fuck around contemplating all these other possible ways to take out an attacker when you could easily and with the most minimal risk to yourself and others, just shoot them?

We live in a country in which the right to bear arms is part of our Constitution. And, frankly, I am totally sickened that recently the 9th District Court ruled that local jurisdictions have the right to prevent people from carrying firearms. That is a direct and totally fucked up violation of the Second Amendment. There is no other way to read it. The right to bear arms is the right to bear arms. That means to actually bear them, to carry them with you.

For me and most people that would mean carrying a firearm in a purse, backpack, or briefcase. The fact that any citizen of the United States is not allowed to keep a firearm with them is a violation of our Constitution. People should be extremely pissed about it.

If anyone – anyone – in any of these tragic mass shootings which have happened had had a firearm, these tragedies would have been much more limited. We are talking about dozens of lives saved. All it would have taken was one shot to the attacker to stop them.

I am appalled and disgusted that any elected official in the United States advocates restricting a right so fundamental to every American citizen that it is written in our country’s founding document. It is entirely appropriate that such officials be immediately impeached.

Given that we have a fundamental right to use firearms, I think it would be appropriate that people take classes in how to not only safely operate, maintain, and carry firearms, but also on the nuances with respect to when or where they would ever be used. There is no question that, in the vast, vast majority of cases, they should not be used because they are simply not the appropriate response for a given situation.

That, clearly, is a huge issue. But to me its kind of like the drug problem. Instead of teaching people how to be wise, they teach people that something is bad and leave people ignorant about it, so that when and if they do eventually use it, the result is often destructive. But imagine if, for example, kids in high school took a class in how to handle conflicts and how to use firearms, taught by professionals.

We live in a society in which conflicts are inevitable. But people do not have conflict training. I am actually very pissed because on several occasions when I attempted to ask people in the police department in my city about how to handle various threatening situations, they simply refuse to help or give answers.

That is the total fucking opposite of what, if they are truly committed to community safety, they should be doing. Especially in communities with high levels of tension and conflict, such advice is all the more essential and valuable.

But its like they don’t give a shit if you know or don’t know how to protect yourself, or how to appropriately respond in a given situation. And they always act like, if you take any response at all, you are wrong. Just by defending yourself you are basically treated as a troublemaker in this fucked up society.

All I can say is that acts of violence are not just isolated things. They are usually breakdowns of a community at various levels. We live in these tense environments where there exist all these different, often weird types of estrangements which only cause people to be even more on edge. But rather than dealing with everything, its almost like law enforcement want to just ignore it and sweep it under the rug. Then, when something bad does happen, they come in and act like heroes, which I question.

Basically I’m saying that I think the whole spectrum of our system is kind of fucked up. And I also think that calling for bans against people’s basic Constitutional right to carry a firearm with them for safety is outrageous.

There are also things like pepper spray which has been around for a long time and which, most outrageously, is banned in many states. In other states the maximum allowable size is 2 oz which is a ridiculously small amount that might actually endanger a defender more than it could actually protect them.

There will no doubt be other new technologies to disable attackers. Certainly the government has no shortage of them. Police departments are keen on acquiring all sorts of ghastly new weapons which use things like radio waves to boil people’s skin and create extreme pain. But then people aren’t allowed to protect themselves and every attempt by them to do so brands them as troublemakers. Totally fucked up.

Frankly, I would feel a lot safer anywhere in public if I knew that civilized people around me had firearms. At the very least if key people had them. For example it makes sense for shop owners to have them. It would take away a lot of the fear and anxiety. Why is the government so hellbent on preventing civilized society from being able to ensure its own safety, which is our basic Constitutional right?

Personally I don’t like guns at all. On the few occasions when I’ve even heard one going off – for example someone hunting in the distance – the sound sickens me. Its horrible. But still, if I was trained in how to handle a firearm and knew that having a small handgun in my purse could potentially save people’s lives, I would feel much safer. If I knew that conscientious, well-intentioned, and responsible people around me had them I would also feel like this society would be a hell of a lot safer and saner.

What sickens me far more than guns is being helpless for no good reason.

Maybe China is Right

Maybe China is right. Western democracies have a severe problem. After a period of prosperity and wealth of resources on a scale that would be unimaginable to ancient peoples, Western societies are not only not that much the better, they are markedly worse, near the verge of collapse, plagued with severe problems.

The value system which has been sort of the goal of Western peoples up to the present may be good for some things, but the befuddled attempt to use that system as a principle to govern society has failed miserably. The values of equality, inclusion, etc. are good for certain small matters. For example they may be good values to have for workers at a health care clinic. But to make decisions which affect society at large based on those types of feelings and values is disastrous.

And, as I mentioned in my election follow-up post, that type of thinking actually is a kind of violence. Out of delusional thinking people wanting to feel good and benefit one target group will happily sacrifice another group. If these people were asked straight up whether they ever think it would be acceptable to sacrifice the lives of some people for the sake of some other ideal, to benefit another group of people, they most certainly would profess to find such an idea repulsive. And of course there’s nothing democratic, fair, or transparent about the way the target and victim groups are chosen. They are chosen because it is part of the delusion – it is accepted by them that that’s just the way it is.

Their belief system has blinded them to the fact that they are in effect no different than, and in fact in many ways worse than, the system they think they want to change.

I say worse than because they are not even conscious of the hypocrisy, of the extent of their delusion. They go on believing that what they are doing is good and moral, even when it results in suffering, because they are so caught up in their self-righteousness. They are so used to being on the side of the oppressed that they are blind to ideas of fairness. That type of blindness is worse than someone who knowingly makes a choice which might involve the harm to others for the sake of some goal.

And I have to say there’s one thing that is absolutely appalling that is going around in the media. After Hilary Clinton won the democratic nomination, there has been a flurry of articles and comments to the effect that this is a great milestone for women. Those people making those claims are so reprehensible that I will not even address them. I will only say that for the hundreds of thousands of women in the middle east who have been slaughtered and maimed as a result of the actions of Hilary Clinton and the oligarchy which she is bought by, it most certainly is not an advance.

I was reading about the now famous “Document No. 9” and thinking about its contents. I was initially perplexed about why constitutional democracy, universal values of human rights, and civil society are considered among the “7 dangerous western values” but now I am beginning to think I understand.

While these are good concepts to have in one’s personal life – they make for a magnanimity of character that is the hallmark of many great people – when it comes to national politics they only create chaos. More often than not they end up being leveraged for the attainment of ends which are quite the opposite.

Amazing Quad Monitor Stand

Watching my first cdrama called Ode to Joy and I really love the office setup in the apartment of one of the characters named An Di who is really cool (she’s a brilliant finance wiz who worked in America, speaks fluent English, and is now CFO for a company in Shanghai).  Years ago when I had the good fortune to take a Summer philosophy course at Berkeley one of my classmates was a brilliant Asian woman who kind of reminds me of An Di.  Being in a class with someone of her caliber was really stimulating – something I really miss.  I think I remember that, after the course, she was going to work for a bank in Switzerland which is my favorite country.

Ode to Joy An Di apartment

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Found the following two models online, the first of which may be identical and the second of which is similar:

amazon.com: Loctek DF2Q Full Motion Free Standing Quad Monitor Arm Desk Mounts Fits Most 10-27 inches Lcd screens ,Heavy Duty Desktop stand

amazon.com: DoubleSight Quad Monitor Flex Stand Fully Adjustable Height Tilt Pivot Free Standing, VESA 75mm/100mm, up to 32″ Monitors

I was actually really thinking about a multi-monitor setup this past semester because trying to work on code on small laptop screens all the time can feel cramped and limited.

Virtual Reality is Astounding!

Warning: Oculus, the makers of the Rift and the Gear VR, is unfortunately owned by Facebook. My recommendation is to purchase an alternative product such as the HTC Vive which will be coming out soon or the Zeiss VR One


Today I immersed in my second ever virtual reality experience, this time with the Oculus Rift itself, of which there was a demo at another Best Buy store.

Its so intense that there’s a person there to be your guide, because it really is like you are entering another reality. My guide explained to me in advance what to expect when in the VR world and stood next to me the entire time to make sure I was safe.

Because I had already tried the Gear VR headset last week, I wasn’t totally surprised when I first put the Rift on. Because I was only there a few minutes I cannot really tell how much better or worse it was compared with the Gear VR experience last week. Basically you are in the same, immersive, alternate reality that is all around you.

The only way I can explain this is that its like you literally are in another world. The brain feels like its in another world. That’s what’s amazing about it. When you’re playing a game or viewing a “world” on a monitor your brain knows you’re still in this reality. But when you put on a VR headset your brain thinks its in another world. It really does. It really brings home the concept from Buddhist esoteric teachings that everything is like a dream – that its all like images flashing before our eyes which we think is real. Well, when you do this, when you use a VR headset, you really see this in action in a profound sort of way.

For me what is really cool about the VR worlds I experienced today – there were a few of them in the demos – was that basically they are just these fantasy worlds which can be very cool and inspiring aesthetically. I especially like the darker, night worlds. One I really loved is where you’re in this metropolis-type setting standing high up on this skyscraper – it kind of reminds me of the skyscrapers in the night scene on the planet Coruscant in Star Wars II, but of course was way more realistic. You’re standing on this tiny ledge and you can step to the edge and look down and – yes – I felt vertigo as I would in real life/reality (RR?).

The biggest shock to me by far was – taking off the headset. I’m not kidding. Its a huge jolt to the brain to be in this really cool world and then – bang! – you’re standing under fluorescent lights in an electronics store! LOL

Another thing I noticed: Afterwards, when you’re back in the RR, you actually feel like you’ve been somewhere. Imagine having an awesome trip to some cool place. Then you leave there and feel the afterglow of it. I felt the same kind of afterglow. I felt as if I had just been on some really cool journey to a strange, magical place.

So one thing I realize is that I think in the future there are going to need to be rescue teams to rescue people who do not want to leave their VR worlds. They are so immersive and such a cool escape that I can see where a person would just want to stay and stay and stay. I can visualize what it would be like to be on a rescue team and go out to someone’s apartment and try to rescue them. I’m sure it would make for some great scenes in a drama 🙂

Maybe in some future time when the technology is so immersive and advanced it might actually be dangerous to just yank someone out of their VR world, so there would have to be people who go into the worlds of people to help rescue them.

Here’s one other interesting thing also: If you watched the BBC documentary series I wrote about recently called “What We Still Don’t Know” – a series I really like because its so different than the shitty American ones with their shitty theatrical music and overdone bad acting, graphics, and appallingly slow pace of information – at one point they are talking about the future of intelligence and how it may be possible for humans to gradually upload or transfer their consciousness – their selves – into computer hardware. A commentator in the documentary says that if this merging happened gradually, over time so that at no point did anything feel unusual, then it could just gradually happen that one day a person ended up existing as consciousness inside a computer.

This was not the first time I heard about this idea. I think I heard about it in the context of space travel and people saying that the idea of trying to take physical bodies – wetware as its called – into space – with all the ensuing problems related to doing that – is just plain ridiculous. But if consciousness can be transferred to machines – then it would be much, much more feasible to really travel through space and visit other worlds.

However in thinking seriously about this, something about it just seemed kind of repulsive if not appalling to me. The idea of losing one’s precious body just so that one’s consciousness or intelligence could be “more powerful” or whatever seems kind of sick. But after being in a VR world, I wonder now if maybe it would be possible to have consciousness exist like that and still have a full existence. Because we are in our bodies, we have our conditioned set of concepts or feelings about what a full existence might mean, but its possible that it could be entirely different for other beings.

Then again, such things are difficult to know because we can only, as humans, experience these virtual realities from our viewpoints. How would it be possible to gauge how full, happy, or complete the existence of an intelligent, conscious entity that lives in a machine is?


UPDATE: Have been investigating this further. The more I look into it, the more it seems like getting the necessary hardware to run the Rift is doable, if you search ardently and get used components.

A lot of high-end gamers sell their components when they upgrade, so you can find good deals on almost-recent models of stuff. So the cost outlay to get a compatible system may not be too high despite the prevalence of such hype in the press.

That still leaves the cost of the Rift itself. But I know with time – probably in a window of maybe 6 months, we should start to see prices come down and used models on the market.

I’ve only done a couple brief demos of VR headsets, but already I’m hooked and know that this is going to be huge in so many ways. And beyond that, its just really cool and fun!


UPDATE 2: Here’s a good, no-nonsense review of the Gear VR headset:

I like the part where she talks realistically about what it can be used for. For me, here are the salient points:

Games: Virtually no interest
Aesthetic/artistic experiences in VR worlds: High interest
Geo-viewing/streetview: Interest
Potential high-density data interaction/control/learning creative interaction environments: Very high interest

I can imagine things like control rooms, libraries, or learning environments on steroids in VR spaces. For example for systems administration you could just create all these control environments. You could invite other co-workers in and give them tours of the environments (and of course they could be halfway around the world).

When it comes to education, the possibilities are unlimited. I remember having a laptop with me in German class and how convenient it was to be able to quickly lookup words in a dictionary during lectures. Imagine what could be done in VR as just one example.

Imagine math classes with no blackboards but everyone has on a VR headset (and can be anywhere in the world). Imagine organic chemistry class with the molecules visible and floating in 3D as the lecturer is giving a lesson.

I even imagine people getting paid – as people are now paid to shop for others a la Instacart – but instead of shopping they might just be viewing somewhere. There may be people who are immobile or whatever who would be glad to go on an adventure, or be able to give commands and direct the person creating the VR tour where to go. So people creating the VR would be like surrogate “experiencers” under the direction of paying clients.


Check out the #oculus channel on the Freenode IRC server. Its sort of like a ground zero for Oculus and VR-related chat and information (if you need a good IRC client I highly recommend HexChat).

Congratulations everyone!

Without anyone really noting it, we have changed. Everyone has changed.

If, say 10 years ago, a person went up to someone and recorded video of them, a normal reaction would be to flip out.

But today its so commonplace that people don’t even blink an eye. Everyone has accepted that being recorded is just normal. There’s nothing unusual about it.

Of course there are different contexts. Its one thing if a person were, say, walking down a street and someone took video of them. But its different when a person for example decided to actually publish a video. I personally would be nervous about doing so. But there are a lot of brave people in the world who put themselves out there and create a lot of videos of their selves. I admire them.

I was just going to write about the future of global mass enslavement

I was just going to write about the future of global mass enslavement, of how that is the path that American society is locked into, when today this article appeared: scmp.com: Elite 1 per cent hold almost half the world’s wealth.

The path that is being chosen now is the path of mass enslavement on a scale never even imaginable previously. From the perspective of what people who are alive now grew up with, what they expected and thought was normal, this will be a blow-out.

The future on Earth is a rigid, two-class system with the entitled and the slaves. There will be some people in the middle but they will mostly be slaves also.

I was going to write about this because this is not the future I wanted. I have been trying my best to promote ways of thinking and changes that will stop this destructive course from happening.

In an even higher context – from a spiritual perspective – this is like a war for Earth, which presently is being lost. Earth had a choice to either evolve to a higher level, practicing wisdom and self-control, or else to lose control and head towards self-gratification, greed, and enslavement as it now is.

To put it succinctly, the two choices for Earth’s future were enlightenment or enslavement. Presently we are locked strongly onto the course of enslavement and I can only tell you that what is coming will be almost unimaginable.

Its funny because in science fiction people like to almost romanticize about dystopian futures. Yes, in the fiction they are dystopian – which is bad – but there’s an aspect to it that is somehow appealing. But I guarantee that the actual dystopian future the world is heading into will be nothing to romanticize even slightly about. It will be sickening and very dark and there will demonic elements to it that will be very shocking.

Election afterthoughts: California is an infection

What this election made perfectly clear is that a large, permanently brain-damaged segment of the population is willing to accept the victimization and murder of people in order to satisfy their egoistic “need” to score humanitarian points.

As such, it is now overwhelmingly clear that this region is a hostile, violent environment unsuitable for living.  The state of California has been hijacked by illegals and their lobbies control its government.  Their agenda is an act of open defiance of United States federal law.  California as such is a threat to the United States of America.  Punitive measures by the federal government against California are clearly justified and necessary.

California is essentially an infection which, for the sake of saving the United States, urgent sweeping measures to contain it must be taken.

Vote

Vote

Fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of extreme-scale computing and the role of key/value servers

If you wonder what a key/value server is and why they are increasingly important, watch this video. It also provides insight into extreme-scale computing environments from the perspective of a brilliant engineer.

The video is here: infoq.com: Evolving the Key/Value Programming Model to a Higher Level

The slides are unfortunately off-screen in the video, but they can be found here: jaoo.dk: Evolving the Key/Value Programming Model to a Higher Level

As a student who has just taken her first database course, I found the beginning of the video interesting where he runs through the distinctions between standard databases and key/value servers.

But the real punch of this video, IMHO, occurs near the end at 52’30” in response to an audience member’s question, where he gives the most amazing nutshell explanation about what the key/value server is doing relative to the traditional database approach and he describes how and why key/value storage is essential for extreme-scale computing such as web search engines.

This video provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of some of the mega-scale operations of the Internet that are utilized by millions of people every day.

Hilary Clinton just pissed on California and on democracy

The oligarchy-manipulated Big Media is running a story – a “headline” – the day before the primary election in California – that Hilary Clinton has won the primary. What an appalling outrage. It is spitting in the face of every Californian and pissing on American democracy. What could be more disrespectful to the millions of American voters in the state of California who will finally have their chance to go to the polls tomorrow to participate in this so-called democracy to be told, the day before the election, “Your vote doesn’t mean shit.”

Without the “superdelegates” – which are super-bullshit – Clinton hasn’t won anything. Tomorrow Bernie Sanders might win California. Big Media – the oligarchy – is putting this “story” out to derail tomorrows election.

Also, the overwhelmingly negative coverage of Donald Trump in the media continues. Even if you don’t like him, it is an absolute outrage the extent to which the oligarchy has attacked him for the past 9 months.

America’s political process is shit.

Tomorrow people are voting in California and one of the most important races is the primary for the junior US Senate position. Where has there been a race? Where has there been any dialog, position, or platform? Nothing but BS.

All I can say is that no one should vote for Kamala Harris who is a pro-illegal, pro-oligarchy scum.

I wonder how much ballot-stuffing has gone on to support Clinton. Then again, in the United States there are no election forensics or biometric voter registration to make sure that our elections are valid even though the technology to provide these things is minuscule to the technology for even mundane things like shopping and advertising.

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